‘India is a long-term investment for Walmart’

MEENAKSHI VERMA AMBWANI THOMAS K THOMAS New Delhi | Updated on November 25, 2017 Published on June 13, 2014

Krish Iyer, Walmart India’s President and CEO

In his first media interaction since taking over as Walmart India’s President and CEO, Krish Iyer said the company is committed to India despite the recent setbacks in terms of the Government’s retail FDI policy.

The US-based retail giant is focused on building its cash-and-carry business even as it explores the option of launching its e-commerce platform in the country. Walmart, which plans to open 50 new wholesale stores by 2020, is now finding the new business model in India worth staying invested. BusinessLine met Iyer to know the company’s outlook for the Indian market. Edited excerpts:

What have you set as the key agendas for the company?

We are looking at where to play in terms of strategy.

The first thing that comes to my mind is what are we allowed to do and where does the regulatory approvals process comes from. Clearly, cash-and-carry is something where there are no restrictions.

The second part is what is a good business to be, and if I look at the size of the cash-and-carry market, there is a big scope.

We have a great team and we have a great model and makes logical sense to grow that business significantly.

Do you see scope for acquisitions?

Cash-and-carry is at a nascent stage and the scale is very small. Acquisition cannot be a very significant strategic initiative; it can be an opportunistic initiative.

We will continue to evaluate any such opportunity, but the current plan that we have for 50 stores is through greenfield expansion.

Has Walmart ever had a rethink in terms of India investment?

India has always been a long-term investment for Walmart. India is a great market and an attractive market by all means.

So, Walmart is committed to India. We would like to focus on building a world class operation in the cash-and-carry business first, simply because it seems to be the most profitable opportunity at this point of time.

How are you engaging with the Government in terms of FDI in multi-brand retail?

We will continue to study the multi-brand retail space. We will continue to engage with the new Government, more in terms of explaining that we are here and we are committed to India and what we are doing here in terms of adding value to kirana shops or in terms of bringing in some of the best practices related to ethical sourcing, our employment practices and doing business the right way.

What kind of support is needed from the Government for your existing business?

Currently, we are looking at land parcels as we expand to smaller towns in different States.

So expedition of regulatory approvals will help. Currently, a store-opening takes 23 months, it can be brought down to 12 months if the regulatory process is converted into a single window clearance mechanism.

Published on June 13, 2014
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